Keith Livingstone Interview

August 4, 2011 1

© Copyright – 2009 – Athletics Illustrated

Keith Livingstone from New Zealand recently published a new book about an old training method, written in today’s language. He has taken the famous training method of the late and incomparable Arthur Lydiard and modernized it so everyone can understand the theory and application fully in a book he calls, Healthy Intelligent Training or H.I.T for short.

The Lydiard method may have produced dozens of international medals for New Zealand, Finland and several other countries, the method also is the training practise of many times that number of runners who wish to experience personal bests or want to run faster in their age-group or race well regionally, nationally, internationally or at the very top of the running echelon. People were drawn to the unique character of Arthur Lydiard, below Keith explains why.

Keith Livingstone grew up very near Lydiard in Auckland, New Zealand. He later ran for the Owairaka Running Club founded by Lydiard. Livingstone went on to run well nationally with a 10, 000m personal best 29:19 and 5000m 14:04. He has been quietly coaching international athletes for the past 20 years, including the coach of an Olympic triathlon gold medallist.

Lorraine Moller, four time Olympian and Olympic bronze marathon winner wrote: ‘Keith captures the genius of Lydiard and delivers it to athletes and coaches in a comprehensive and complete  form….the Lydiard Foundation has adopted this book as it’s official text for all Lydiard coaching courses.’

CK: You have recently produced a book, which is now available for purchase called Healthy Intelligent Training. The book informs readers about the Arthur Lydiard method of training, but in the language of today.

The Lydiard method is many things, but one particular aspect I like is the simplicity of it. Did you have trouble keeping today’s terminology from clouding the basic message of the Lydiard method?

KL: No and yes!

No, because I have made a point of trawling the exercise physiology literature in the last 25 years to understand what the requirements of superb performance are – and I haven’t limited myself to just running literature. It’s a big hobby, so I’m not like a PhD candidate who has to know more and more about less and less. I’m free to find out more and more about more and more. Like a kangaroo compared to a blinkered cart-horse; able to hop all over the place having a look at whatever.

I’m interested in strength training, neuromuscular training, brain training, martial arts, the training of power and balance…boxing, swimming, cycling, kayaking, the whole box and dice. And I have a clear rationale or understanding in my own mind now (I think!) of the general physiology, and it all comes down to a simple understanding of the different muscle fibre types, and their respective dominant energy systems and nerve types, and the effective limits on those systems, and how best to train these muscle fibres and systems. Easy to describe when you say it quickly, but it took a long time to distil my understanding of the “simplicity” of all of this into cartoon format.

My brother Colin is a fabulous cartoonist and he ripped the guts out of what I was trying to get across in simple diagram form, so that by the end of the physiology section, a 12 year old could tell you what all these things represent. And by the time I went through the process of clarifying my thoughts for the purpose of the book, I realized that no one has really explained the muscle fibre types in a manner that anyone from off the street can understand. No book that I’ve read, anyhow. They write about these systems in an “assumed understood” manner, or circle around them, but at the end of this whole process I am pretty certain that the key to performance in all sports events lasting over 10 seconds comes down to an understanding of a few mostly cartoon pages in my physiology section. That’s a big claim isn’t it?

(Chris nods)

The basic premise of Lydiard’s system is incredibly simple, but don’t be fooled by this so-called simplicity. I like the notion that if an idea can’t be outlined on a business card, then it’s too complicated! So if I were to design Lydiard’s business card, I’d say “aerobic base dictates anaerobic training potential.” HOWEVER – and this is a BIG HOWEVER – there is a balance and sophistication about it that can be exquisite in its delivery, particularly in the final touches in track preparation in middle distance.

In each phase of preparation, there are subtleties and personal parameters that need to be understood to get the best results. Lydiard’s system delivered an amazing run of NZ world records and Olympic medals that has yet to be matched by any nation, Kenya included. We have to remember Snell won 3 out of 3 Olympic attempts, and his 1:44.3 world record for 800m run on grass in February 1962 is just about to celebrate its 48th anniversary as the Oceania record: to this day, no athlete from either Australia or New Zealand has run faster. That’s a fact!

Unless another special talent emerges in either country in the very near future, we are looking at a national record that looks like being over 50 years old before it’s broken. How good is that? The Kenyan, Bungei won the Beijing Olympic final last year in 1:44.65, to give you an idea of how fast Snell’s time was.

Lydiard’s knowledge was earned the very hard way. He was his own lab rat – sometimes logging as much as 300 miles a week, sometimes as little as 30, while he formulated his approach. He turned himself from an overweight, unfit man approaching middle age to a New Zealand marathon champion several times over during middle age.

He read widely, and was strongly influenced by Arthur Newton’s theories on building endurance. Arthur kept detailed diaries and monitored his reactions to training like a scientist would. So with some more experience in coaching others over a number of years, he had a very good idea of the broad parameters within which most people within the “bell curve” could improve without over-doing things. Often the most elegant and sophisticated systems are based on the final assay of huge amounts of trial and error. It’s like what my chiropractic mentor Dr John Hinwood says when people ask him how he has such good judgement: he replies that he has such good judgement because he’s experienced many years of bad judgement!

CK: It is interesting that Arthur Lydiard’s method is still misinterpreted by so many, including top-end athletes. Rich Englehart, when exasperated with someone on a chatline finally said, “Lydiard is too simple for most people to appreciate”.

The beauty of the messaging today including your book and the Lydiard Foundation courses as well as McMillan Elite is in the delivery of the message, look at the results Greg McMillan is getting with his athletes, not just in the delivery, but also in the application.

In the book, do you cover much in the way of the delivery and application of the system?

KL: Oh yes! Some would say too much! Lots of examples from the way we fine-tune athletes in our squad along the broad principles, allowing for individual reactions, that sort of thing. But the devil’s in the detail, and it’s not possible to dumb down the collective experiential knowledge of all the earlier Lydiard runners into simple black and white one-liners.

I’ve done this by getting up-front and personal, citing real-life examples of success and stuff-ups, many my own! So there’s a stream-of-consciousness narrative that ties the physiology together. We even have a section of “Case Histories” about athletes – one or two quite famous: others not famous at all, but all as valid as each other in getting points across.

When we were running with the older guys on long runs, they’d pull us back if we were going a bit too fast for the desired effect, that sort of thing. Magee did it with the emerging Snell on long runs under Lydiard’s instruction. It’s all in there!

CK: Lorraine Moller wrote the forward to the book. She being a cofounder of the Lydiard Foundation and trained on the Lydiard method producing a very long and successful running career, it must have been rewarding for you to hear her say that the Foundation will use the book as its official text for their training programs.

KL: Yes!

CK: Your book has gotten spectacular reviews from the aforementioned Lorraine Moller, also an original Lydiard athlete and your coach Barry Magee, as well as Tony Wilson of Glenhuntly Athletics. The book is billed ‘for serious runners and coaches’. So is this the ultimate reward, having the people who truly are intimate with the training method fully endorse your book?

KL: Yes – I’m very fortunate in having several very good reviews from people I respect greatly in athletics. Not only those people: it seems to hit the mark with others too. I saw one from a fellow called ‘Simon M’ in Boulder on the Amazon site: he gave it a 5 star rating. He’s obviously been around distance running, and Lydiard’s books, since 1978, and it hit the mark for him. Another guy has endorsed it highly too – Brian Taylor, a Lydiard coach in New Zealand for 40 years now. I caught up with him in person just over a week ago and watched his squad train in Christchurch. Good fun!

I like Barry Magee’s description: that the book “fills in the lines between the lines”. I realized a few years ago that I’d grown up just down the road from Lydiard, trained under his system with one of his first two athletes Barry Magee (the other was Murray Halberg), and was in a position to accurately write about what I knew, having worked for 5 years earlier as a copywriter with Radio New Zealand, and having trained as a chiropractor where I really concentrated on the physiology and biomechanics of exercise.

We don’t realize sometimes that we’re enmeshed in a continual storyline, and I had this revelation that I was enmeshed in the Lydiard storyline and was duty-bound to record what I knew. Don’t know why, but I took this on as a very important project, and if it helps just one athlete and coach get better, more consistent results, then I’m happy.

There are some things I picked up on and understood at a youngish age – little things – just from training with the older Lydiard guys on Sundays. Like a folklore, where knowledge would be rationed out by older, wiser hard men like Kevin Ryan, or by listening to someone like Lorraine, who I did a heap of running with in 1979. And of course the weekly philosophical talk with Coach Barry Magee, who Arthur, when he was still with us, named as the future repository of his system when he was gone.

I wrote the book for someone who was like me when I was in my early 20’s: a ton of enthusiasm, some good wins in championships under my belt, good natural speed and endurance, and a love for training and racing, but now and again missing my potential because of lack of knowledge. I actually moved to Australia in 1982 to study as a chiropractor to further my understanding of how everything comes together, thinking that I’d fly through that course and get back to my running at a high level later. But that didn’t quite pan out the way I thought it would, which is another story!

I haven’t seen Tony Wilson’s review, but Tony is a case in point and he actually appears as a ‘case history’ in the book. Here we have a guy who had been racing since he was in Little Athletics, who in his first year as a senior athlete at 20 ran 48.6 for 400m and a 1:49 for 800m. The 400m time alone is faster than that of many world-class middle-distance runners have ever achieved, so this guy had real potential.

This was when the myths about Sebastian Coe’s training were being propagated and believed around the world. Tony did his exceptional times as a youngster on a program with a local track coach who made sure he never ran for over an hour in any single ‘long’ run, and each training week when he was racing well included a blend of hill sprints, hard track reps, and weekend racing.

But as Arthur said, “Bad training can look remarkably like good training!”. Tony never ran faster, despite continuing with this sort of program for the next 19 years. By the time he got to me, he was 39, still in good shape, but frustrated at not being able to get at his obvious potential: he’d have yo-yo seasons results-wise, varying from pretty good to pretty darned awful considering his natural ability.

We have to pan out to macro to see what’s going on – look at our programs in context. In Tony’s case, the previous winter before his stunning debut senior track season many years before, he had enjoyed a full cross-country season, where he regularly joined the Glenhuntly distance athletes on long runs (2 hours plus) in the hills. So he’d built a good winter base from which some hard fast stuff that his granny could’ve given him would’ve got a result. Inadvertently he’d stumbled upon the original Lydiard method in all its simplicity. Long running till very fit, then fast work, to be followed by ANOTHER cycle of long running, then fast work, usually twice in a year, ad nauseam, improving every year. But he only cottoned onto the fast bit done with this “track coach”, and thought that this was “the way”. Pity – a real talent – but he’s redeemed himself lately with some Victorian age records.

Anyhow, the interesting thing in this case is that Tony contacted me after reading a few of my comments on another running blog site, and asked me to coach him. So I did, and after getting him to basically ease into a regime where he ran nearly twice his previous weekly volume, much slower, for winter, he came out in his 40th year and ran 1:54.1 for 800 and 3:57 for 1500 – times he hadn’t even approached in 8 years. He could’ve run faster over 800m but never got into a race in ideal conditions – but he regularly trounced another guy who ran 1:52.0 that season. And he was consistent for the first time.

CK: Knowing that those who know and follow the Lydiard method, know it well. It’s like either you are in or you are out, once in there is no going back. You are an accomplished runner yourself growing up very near Arthur’s home. Did you really need to do much research?

KL: I knew the overview, obviously, but inadvertently. I did heaps of research because I am a naturally very curious individual who needs to understand things at the tin tacks level. I don’t necessarily accept other people’s beliefs or dogmas as “fact” until I’ve tested it – Lydiard included.

I was the kid who blew out every fuse in the house establishing the fact that a steak knife placed across the top two bars of a 240V household plug, while in the socket, would involve the conduction of large amounts of electricity, and that, yes, what my parents said about electricity was true. So anyhow (how did I go there?), this involved lots of phone calls to some of the original “Arthur’s Boys” to verify facts – this was part of my early journalistic training and it proved very handy. If I couldn’t substantiate a story or a line between a line, it wouldn’t get into print.

Then I got very, very curious about the muscle physiology, and what each type of work would be doing inside them ‘thar cells… and that involved a lot of reading. Google and the various physiology research websites got hit more than Sonny Liston received from Cassius Clay!

CK: Arthur was not a scientist by any means so it is interesting he was a little like Magellan in that all his early work was discovering the method, but he did and he also fine-tuned the delivery and application of the system I got that, but how in the world did he manage to get people (in the beginning) to believe in his passion. He must have been quite convincing.

KL: Well, results talk, don’t they? Initially people in Auckland in the late 1940’s saw this little ex-rugby player with a bit of spare padding join a running club to get fit. Then he’d be seen training at any time of the day or night, because he worked a number of jobs to support his family, then he started winning long road races at an age where most men would’ve quit competitive sport. So people gravitated to him out of curiosity I think, and found that he made sense! I don’t think he ever set out to change the world or anything – he just wanted to get himself fit and healthy, and it grew from there….

I never really met Arthur that much, despite the early connections of living in the same suburb and running for his club and being coached by one of his original pupils. Arthur wasn’t around in New Zealand for a long time: he was often overseas, and as a youngster in my late teens and early twenties I was living in other cities with my job with Radio New Zealand, and then I stayed on in Australia after coming here to study in 1982. So although I’ve written a book about his methods, and feel like I know the guy, in truth I was in his actual presence for only a few hours cumulatively. But that included a great Waiatarua run with him in our club running group in 1976, when he certainly was the life of the group, and extremely positive and encouraging. He was 59 then, but was like a little steam train. If I were to describe him from that, and from the lectures I attended, I’d say “fun-loving force of nature”. He was extremely dogmatic, and would bridle at questioning he thought was insolent, so no one messed with him, really. Some did, apparently, and got quite a bit more than they bargained on.

If you can appraise a man by the people he surrounded himself with, then he must’ve been a really fun guy! You can’t build a following without being genuinely interested in others, and being fun is a big part of that! Distance runners around the world are a good bunch of party people; pretty easy to get on with and very social. My memories of running as a youngster are all fun, and some of the guys would get up to all kinds of stuff!

I’ll never forget, as an impressionable youngster, some of the amazing feats of recovery that New Zealand’s top distance guys could perform off the track. One of our guys, Paul Ballinger, personally coached by Arthur, was a tiny little fellow like Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island; not fast on the track, but he could run like the clappers over country or road, with his tachometer on the red-line the whole way. He won Fukuoka in 2:10 one year, which says something. Anyhow, I’ll never forget seeing him carried out of the presentation and function hall around midnight after a New Zealand road championships in which he’d been just pipped on the line in an extremely fast time. He was staggering all over the place, looking like he had bilharzias, malaria, cholera, and dysentery combined. He was doing the old Technicolor yawn all over the place, but the infective agent was beer and l lots of it; truly awful to behold. It all came up, with requisite chunky carrots, and then more, gallons. It went down the gutters of Whakatane, into the storm-water drains with so much flow that they couldn’t cope. The grates got blocked with a glutinous sludge of chunky carrot, bile, and poorly metabolized Steinlager beer.

CK: Surely you jest.

How a guy so small could bring so much up and survive was the question.

Then the next day, very early, he’s up bright as a button for his long run like nothing had happened! Come to think of it, beer seems to feature in a lot of my early memories of the Lydiard system and the athletes. Barry Magee didn’t drink though, which shows how disciplined and special a man he is.

One older guy, who we’ll call Fred X to protect the guilty, was famous for being able to whip out his equipment during a long run and pee with uncanny accuracy onto the socks of the person beside him, often after climbing the big Waiatarua hill. They’d be basking in the relief of having knocked over ‘the hill’, then feel a warm sensation on the right sock. This was OK until he did it to a handy newcomer to the group, a redheaded 2:17 marathoner who wanted to punch his lights out and chased him at sub-5 minute miles along Scenic Drive. Fred could run under 2:20 for a marathon at 40, from memory, so he was no slouch, but he got a damned good VO2 max workout in during that run.

The New Zealand running scene in the 70’s was so much fun that every man and his dog would come down to Auckland to train. This was all a legacy of Arthur’s fun approach to running I’d say.

You didn’t have to leave Auckland to meet all the top dogs from around the world, and they’d often be looking for some decent training hacks to show them around the key courses. Chris Pilone, who lived to train, was on shift work and lived in Auckland for years, so he became number one training hack for all the greats, and that’s probably why he’s such a good coach these days. It was very enlightening; some ‘superstars’ found our southern heat, hills and humidity pretty tough going. We realized that these guys were working hard on our regular turf, so were obviously beatable.

I remember training with the little Swiss guy Marcus Ryffel, the silver medallist over 5000m in Moscow later in the year, early in 1980 on Shaw Road. Shaw Road is the poor man’s Waiatarua, exiting off the main course early, cutting out the dirty big hill, but still a toughie.

One moment he was there with Pilone and me, the next he was gone. He got picked up by someone in a car I think or did he wander in many minutes later to Kevin Ryan’s place? It’ll be in one of my training diaries somewhere, no doubt. Anyhow, it was revelation to me that a world-class Swiss guy could find our hilly courses difficult, but then I guess they don’t have the humidity and roadside fern trees there do they? So as I watched Moscow I got a real surprise when he did himself proud: I was saying to myself things like “So what if he got an Olympic medal? He couldn’t stay with Pilone and me on Shaw Road in January!” Perhaps I had my value system slightly distorted, but that’s what it was like.

CK: Again your book is labelled for ‘serious middle distance runners and coaches’. However, Lydiard applied his principles, to some degree, to joggers and heart patients. Of course the same physiological effects apply to everyone of any ability, but saying that, do you think you are selling your book to more of an exclusive audience than otherwise might be possible.

KL: You’re probably right, and I’m considering a generalized H.I.T book that can be applied to all sports and levels of ability. That’s my next project after finishing my shed. However, I really didn’t want to attempt something that was all things to all people in running – where does one stop? Some books even tell you how to tie shoelaces; now come on! We’ll be running with ponytails and lycra compression tights next! Oops…sorry Chris… that’s a nice ponytail you’ve got there, mate! And I like the 2XU scrunchy, nice touch….

(defiantly he jests on)

But really, if we’re writing about the Lydiard system, it’s got to be all or nothing. The long work CANNOT be compromised. If it is, then it is no longer Lydiard’s system, and I’m scared of Arthur even though he’s been dead over 4 years!

Too many personal trainers and “sports scientists” with ponytails and compression tights have been assiduously chipping away at the edges of Lydiardism, peddling their compromised versions, till all we get is meaningless articles in popular running mags for the masses warning people of the dangers of good old-fashioned, decent mileage. What a load of cobblers!

Next thing we’ll have these guys shortening the marathon distance to avoid the dangers of glycogen depletion! If you increase loads sensibly and wear good shoes, you just adapt and get as fit as hell, and get so strong that your friends who religiously follow all the carefully prepared and balanced “get your PB 5k in 6 weeks” speed programs just get blown away. Period.

(Keith’s pen makes deep gouge marks through paper into desk surface as he completes crude stick drawing of personal trainer in ponytail)

I’ve seen plenty of people who couldn’t run out of sight on a dark night just get stuck into mileage and totally embarrass more highly talented people cautiously and carefully coached by people with ponytails. One guy coached by Magee or Dick Quax ended up with a sub-30 10k track title and a 2:15 marathon, and at full speed he resembled a Clydesdale towing a full harness and plough. Forgotten his name at present, but he did the job, didn’t he? That’s all that counts in the end.

CK: Apparently you have added to or used a fair amount of space to feature the under appreciated hill phase. I read where many athletes do limit the hill phase, run their own hill phase or just run hilly environments all the time, therefore avoid the specific 4 – 6 period of time that Lydiard created, using bounding, repeats and circuits.

How important is the hill phase in relation to the speed, coordination, sharpening and marathon conditioning phases.

KL: Hill training, correctly performed, is wonderful for polishing sprint technique, improving efficiency at speed, and introducing flexibility into the tendons and joints of the lower limb. Jim Bush, who coached 1992 Olympic 400m champ Quincy Watts, was a big advocate of Lydiard’s hill exercises.

I’d say it gets more important the shorter your race distance. For marathon, it’s useful in developing a certain running economy, but then marathon isn’t about springing like a gazelle for 42.2 kms, is it? If you can master the basic exercises over several weeks each season, then it’s a very good thing to do. I read Peter Coe’s book that he wrote with David E Martin in the 1990’s, and after reading it couldn’t tell you one more thing about Coe’s mileage phase, (which as we now know was really intelligently Lydiard-based all along) but what I could see for certain once the smoke disappeared was that Coe phased in a block of longer hill sprints at slower speeds, then shorter hill sprints at faster speeds, and various hill-based resistance exercises. He did OK, didn’t he? He had several different types of hill circuit near his London base, on a hillier part of the Thames valley.

But to answer your question, I put all that stuff in because it was very much a part of the very successful original programmes, and I’ve never seen it explained in detail before.

Actually the bulk of that material came from Nobby Hashizume, our energetic Japanese-American co-founder of the Lydiard Foundation.

Everyone in the known world seems to know Nobby; he pops up anywhere Lydiard’s name is mentioned, and must have his hard drive bursting with archival stuff. If you want to know what brand of diaper Lasse Viren’s mum favoured, just ask Nobby. If he can’t get it for you straight away, he knows someone who can. Honestly!

He was a career triple jumper who wanted to run a decent marathon, and rather than buy a Lydiard book and get a coach, he did one better: he went and stayed with Lydiard for a year; drank his beer, warmed his bed, ate his food, shared his razor, fathered his children.

I just found out more about the original circuit from two of “Arthur’s boys”: Barry Magee and Vern Walker. The history interests me as much as the physiology, and I’ve recorded it for history’s sake. Maybe one day a kid growing up in Whitney St. Blockhouse Bay will become a good runner and realize he grew up on Lydiard’s original hill circuit!

CK: Anything else on explosive power.

I have also explored the physiology of this plyometric work as far as re-activating the most explosive muscle fibres, the type IIB fast-twitch.

We go into some detail because if coaches can see what is being attempted, and understand the physiology of it, then they can take those ideas away with them and insert those sessions creatively into a schedule. If you don’t understand it, and can’t see it demonstrated, then you’re likely to skip it.

Plenty of world-class athletes have abbreviated this phase or not done it, with no apparent loss, but then we still see that the guys who did it best, like Halberg and Snell, were capable of some of the fastest finishes ever recorded in international track titles. Halberg ran a 53.8s last 440 yards to win the 1958 Empire Games 3-mile title, yet his best-listed time for the 440 yards was 52.5!

Snell… well… if you ever watch footage of his 1964 Olympic 1500m win, you’ll see what hill training can do! One moment he’s with the pack, the next he’s burst clear, making great world-class athletes look like pack-horses, and then he relaxes into the finish with his arms in the air, having cleared out by over 10 metres while he relaxes! All over, Red Rover! Too easy! His last 300 took 38.6, with a last lap of 52.5, but the real action took place in the back straight 100 and last curve 100, covered in 25s flat for 200m.

The hill work phase was practiced by different people in different ways. Pekka Vasala, who along with Lasse Viren was one of Lydiard’s great Finnish success stories, apparently he used hill resistance work deep into his Munich Olympic track program.

CK: Ron Daws, a Lydiard advocate, Olympian and Author had said that it is within the average male’s capability to manage a 2:30 marathon if trained properly. What are your thoughts on that statement?

KL: Absolutely yes! Ron would know! He made the Mexico Olympics in the marathon with next to no natural speed or talent. His was the ultimate “ugly duckling” story – a guy with a best mile time slower than 4:25 who used his brains and trained methodically. I knew Ron; he was Lorraine Moller’s coach in her early marathon years, and her first husband. Very encouraging guy – a bit ‘crazy’- but which top runner isn’t? Ron wrote a top book in 1985 –“Running Your Best”, which greatly clarified many concepts and approaches for me. It’s worth getting a copy if you can find one – I’m looking at my copy right now: ISBN 0-8289-0559-2. I saw there were two old copies on Amazon when I checked it out a few minutes ago – only $40! Ron died young in 1992, unfortunately.

When I was on the Lydiard program in New Zealand, 2:30 was definitely considered a time any solid club runner could do. Many did. It was simply no big deal at all! In fact, for a good runner it was Sunday run pace for 22 miles or more. I know of one guy here in Australia, Damien Cooke, who was a late-starting fun-runner when he first joined our Sunday run group in outer Melbourne, around 1984. His marathon debut was around 3:58, in the Melbourne marathon, maybe slower. However, he loved the running life and was keen as mustard. Over the years he got more serious and by his late thirties he’d recorded 2:21, and 14:25 for 5000m, as well as sneaking under 4 minutes for 1500m. That’s not bad for a fun-runner, is it?

CK: That is brilliant for a fun runner. Can you define crazy when you refer to Ron.

KL: Ron was famous for never having a car worth more than $500. A hangover from the 60’s hippie thing maybe; I don’t know. Lorraine told me that on one occasion he invited all his mates to his place in Minneapolis to have a car burial party for one of his recently deceased. The idea was to smash the car up with mallets, drink lots of beer, dig a big hole communally with this male gathering, and bury the car. They achieved the first two goals admirably, but then everyone was too tired and sleepy to dig a hole, so that was that. That would’ve impressed the neighbours, surely!

On the one hand he was like that, and on the other he was a self-made Olympian, brilliant running writer, and coach! Isn’t humanity fabulous? He was also famous for being able to demolish a whole 2-litre tub of ice cream at one sitting, and seemed to prefer this stuff to real food. Heavens knows what that would do to the endocrine system! He dropped dead from a heart attack at 50, which was a great shame, but on the cards. Running is great for the heart, but it can’t protect us from excess like that!

CK: Earlier you mentioned Blog site chats. Do you visit Let’s Run or NZ Run?

KL: I’ve seen the former (Let’s Run dot com) – a very good site. Will check out the latter, and I should as a passport-holding New Zealand citizen.

CK: I found your index on the net, you have pages on such sausage study as, page 102 ‘A study of Sausages’, Page 207 ‘Sausage Country’, Page 205 ‘The Story of Sausages’ and others such as, Nutritional Benefits of Sausages and Sausages for Beginners.

I don’t even have a question really; just hoping you might enlighten me.

KL: Oh, sausages! That stuff is all from Professor Roger Robinson, a running mate who was the best masters distance runner in the world for a few years. Roger managed to represent New Zealand and England in world cross-country titles. He co-developed a great method of structuring cross-country training for groups of very mixed abilities, early in the 1960’s while a student at Cambridge with Mike Turner, also a cross-country international. Because it was based on long intervals of constant running over whatever terrain came up, with short recoveries, it could be described graphically like a string of sausages. Great article, very funny, very useful progressive training to insert into the cross-country season, so I “borrowed” it, just like Robbie’s (Johnston) article on Walker and El Guerrouj.

The funny thing about this was that my original manuscript deliberately avoided getting into nutrition, because I didn’t want to get away from the pure physiology and principles too much.

However, my publishers are German, and one of the keen-eyed Saxons must have glanced quickly at the same index when writing the blurb for the book in the Meyer & Meyer catalogue. Being German, I guess he or she saw the word ‘sausage’, and decided that I covered nutrition in detail as well as everything else. So as that was promised in the sales blurb, and I then felt duly obliged to write a chapter or so on this. It turned out for the best, though, and makes the book more complete.

 

 

 

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